Irons strengths and weaknesses assessed

The thoughtful and intelligent FourFourTwo.com has produced a top feature on the strengths and weaknesses of every Premier League team this season.

And it’s very difficult to argue with their assessment of the Hammers as we look to climb into a top eight or ten spot after a busy summer whilst allowing for more inward and outward movement.

By the nature of such pieces it is impossible to cover every area  but writer Sen Stafford-Bloor has pinpointed some strong points on both sides of the fence in his look at the Irons.

Here’s what he sees the summer window as having meant to the club and fans thus far.

A growing maturity, seemingly. The difference in West Ham from a year ago is dramatic: there has been no shouting on social media, no look-at-us transfer culture and, a few errant tweets aside, very little negative PR.

In its place has risen a calm, strategic approach to the transfer market which has systematically allowed the curing of long-standing weaknesses.

A new goalscorer, a much better goalkeeper, plus two strong Premier League performers in Marko Arnautovic and Pablo Zabaleta. For once, West Ham’s strength has been their recruitment.


It’s an unfair point, because clubs can’t be expected to tackle every issue they have inside a single window, but the lack of depth is still a concern.

An injury to Cheikh Kouyate (he’s talking long term I believe)  would cause significant issues in midfield, for instance, as would the absence of Winston Reid in defence.

There’s a month of window left, so maybe West Ham are still pursuing players, but the peril of having a thin squad is an annual problem in the East End and staff shortages could well undermine another season if they’re unlucky.

His point on Kouyate is well made as Cheik’s running and high energy approach has always been one of the unsung strengths of the team.

When we rely on such as Mark Noble to do that job we are nothing like as effective at getting up and back and let’s hope – because with the availability of James Collins and now Declan Rice – there is no plan to play Cheik at the back except in the most extreme cases.

We are surprised the writer hasn’t included the fierce commitment of Michail Antonio or the growing influence of Manu Lanzini but in essence, given the word count he was given, we reckon he’s got it spot on



About Hugh5outhon1895

Hugh Southon is a lifelong Iron and the founding editor of ClaretandHugh. He is a national newspaper journalist of many years experience and was Bobby Moore's 'ghost' writer during the great man's lifetime. He describes ClaretandHugh as "the Hammers daily newspaper!" Follow on Twitter @hughsouthon

31 comments on “Irons strengths and weaknesses assessed

  1. Their season predictor has us ending up at 13 th which won’t please the optimists.

    • 13th would be a major under achievement. I think top 10 is par for the course for West Ham this season and I suppose 8th would be a good season. Personally I hope and expect top 6 and I accept that would represent an excellent season for West Ham with 6th being “excellent” and winning the premiership being “very very very excellent I’ve just wet my pants” Top 4 and a cup win would represent the same. Let’s all pray for damp pants.

    • Hi Hammer64
      I guess I’d call myself one of those optimists..
      I believe that we could finish between 6-8th position, but only on the 2 following caveats..
      1) We can only hope that our list of injuries is short and that any niggles are only minor setbacks
      2) Let us pray (religion irrelevant!!) that Slav is not stupid enough to persist with his favourite 4-2-3-1 formation; if he should do so, we could finish up in the same bloody mess that we were in last season, in spite of the 5 new signings. We simply don’t have the right players to warrant using this formation; when will Slav learn?
      He has at his disposal, a 4-4-2, a 3-5-2, or 3-4-3, all of which will strengthen up the midfield and give us more strike power up front!

    • I think it depends a lot on our CBs. If we keep the best ones fit ( Reid Ginge and Rice ) we could be looking at top 8. Also the buying hasn’t stopped yet.
      With Check Lanzini Antonio and others to come back, we should be quite confident.

      • Are you sure about Reid, Collins, and Rice as our best CB’s?
        Surely Ogbonna is a better option than our gallant but slowing Ginge!

        However, I do agree that we could finish top 8 (or even slightly better!!) if the gaffer uses any formation other than that daft 4-2-3-1, which simply does not suit our current squad of players, new signings and all. This formation is weak at the front (we don’t have a Ronaldo-like lone wolf who can beat 2-3 defenders in their dust-no disrespect to Chicharito, who will score goals as long as he has a partner up front!!) and too fragile in the middle; we must use a 4-4-2. a 3-5-2, or a 3-4-3 if we are serious about cracking the top 8 and if Slav values his neck!

        • True Ginge is on his last legs and only effective in short spurts, but his short spurts are better than Ogbonnas mediocrity.
          I want Rice and Reid as a 2, or they can add Ogbonna or Ginge or Zabaletta or even Fonte to make a 3.

  2. I wouldn’t say that we have a thin squad, we actually have quite a deep squad of players all whom are capable of filing in, the weaknesses are strikers who are always injured, central defenders who don’t defend and a captain who doesn’t lead very well.

    • Agree 32 but there are still 2 or 3 more in and probably the same number out. That’s fine, that’ll strengthen the squad some more.

  3. Oh dear 32,you are in the shyt now saying Noble dont lead well. Anyway it was good knowing you,i hope the noose aint too painful😂😂

    • I am sure that Noble is a good and gallant captain, but unfortunately, it is hard to justify his position in the team, unless he has picked up a yard in pace over the pre-season training period.

      • Totally agree Max but saying anything negative about Nobes in some fans eyes is an act of treason & to the gallows you must go 😁

      • Just one yard max ? Try 8 😂😂😂😂😂😂this bloke is holding us back and if bilic doesn’t get wise and strengthen his position its like a barn door that never shuts lol 😎
        a different door he maybe looking at 😉

    • Oh I never noticed he said that when I agreed with him. Total cobblers 32. Shoe shop Laz 😂

  4. So what is Cheks injury? How long is he out? Anyone know?

    • Aside from his previous wrist injury (which was operated on and supposedly fixed), I thought that he had picked up some freakish training injury affecting his knee (but am not sure on this). Seem to remember Slav saying he wouldn’t be out for a long, long period, but at the same time saying it was a serious injury, which is as about as good as telling us nothing!
      We could have done with Kouyate for the first game against Man Utd. Who is going to stop Lukaku?

  5. I was going to come on here this morning and give you a report on the West Ham Billericay match but despite a few of us meeting in Harry’s Bar and arranging a pal with a 7 seater to ferry us down the road to the ground……. we never left the pub lmao. I was going to write an article entitled “I, Manager” where I tell you what I would’ve done had I been in charge of the side. The reality is I did just that. I stayed in the pub for the match 😂😂

    Anyhow sounds like we missed nothing!

    Great to see Manure are there for the taking COYIs

    • Lol i did that before we played Arsenal once.I know its bang out of order but i just couldnt stop the beer from flowing,it just tasted too good.It had nothing to do with the drinker being stacked with wall to wall beaver either,honestly 😂

      • Our plight wasn’t helped by our designated driver having 4 pints before we arrived at 7pm. His car is still parked behind the bar. He hopes! A few girls arrived after kick off claiming to be part of the Ricays cheerleaders but even tho my mates believed it I’m weren’t so sure. I reckon one would’ve been on a respirator after “Give me a B” lol.

        I did learn The Ricays are named after billeRICAY whereas I thought they were named after Ricky as in Bianca 😂😂

        Right gotta go. Daytime TV, I mean Deals to do.

  6. Until the TW closes we cant really assess the squad fullyThere is still time for much too happen so lets see where we stand when that finishes.
    Im expecting another cb,cm and striker to come in.Squad fillers more than anything.
    Anywhere over tenth and i wont complain.We are playing in a different league to the top teams.

  7. I am sure I will be proved wrong but other than City I don’t think the other teams have added a lot to their capabilities and at City if Ederson turns out to be a donkey and Kyle Walker returns to the pre Pochettino version they could still be beatable, Arsenal may lose both Sanchez and Ozil, Liverpool will probably lose Coutinho, Chelsea are losing Costa have lost Matic, may lose Hazard, although they have signed Morata and Bakayoko, Tottenham have lost Walker, may lose Alli if Barca come in for him, Everton have strengthened a lot but have more games and will it take too long for those players to gel ? Leicester will lose Mahrez and maybe Drinkwater to Chelsea, they also have too many players in their squad so are unbalanced. If we can sort our defence out make them a solid unit perhaps by adding Rice to Central defence or in place of Noble in defensive midfield there could be a real opportunity to gatecrash the party at the top. Sometimes when you see these huge sums being spent you might think they are buying top quality but these are players often not with PL experience so at best maybe 50% of them will succeed and some will vanish without a trace and some wouldn’t appear to justify the sums involved in transferring them Coutinho being an example, I am optimisitic that with the players we have we will certainly be top 8 its just a question of where in that top 8 we will finish and that will be determined by how well we can perform against the top 6 or 7, if we can hold them to some draws get a few surprise results 3 to 6th is possible. On squads alone the two standout teams are City and Tottenham, Chelsea not far behind but if they lose Hazard… Man Utd are nothing sepcial, Arsenal are average and Liverpool pretty average, Everton have bought well and look solid, Leicester aren’t what they were and if they lose Mahrez they are short on creativity, we shouldn’t be afraid of any of them we just need a couple of results to give us some belief and momentum that we are close to that level and we could fly. Fingers crossed my loads of long winded cobblers will have an element of truth about it and we will have an even better season than two years ago COYI !!!

  8. 3rd to 6th no32.I love your optimism on that call lol.
    Soz but unfortunately i dont see us even close to the top lot you mentioned but hey i hope im proved wrong and all the out going transfers you have planned for them happen and they are left with nothing.I do really hope Spuds get robbed of some quality.Unfortunately apart from Walker they havnt been 🙁

    • I am being very optimistic I admit Gaz, remember with Tottenham they are play all their games this season away from home and the supposed home games on a pitch they don’t play particularly well on (Wembley) so there is still a big unknown there. My thought process is that the league as a whole is pretty poor quality so we haven’t improved much but the teams above us are not so far above us as they used to be, plus this season there are going to be video ref’s assistance in an unofficial sense which may help write the wrongs of referees which have blighted us (but probably not).

  9. I would consider anything lower than sixth a failure . With the signings we have made we should be expecting European Qualification . We signed them for that . Why should we be happy with eighth or seventh or ninth . We managed 11th last season , albeit luckily .
    We are not looking for Luck this season , we are looking and expecting enough points to realize our true desires . We need to strengthen the midfield and stem the defensive errors admittedly but , we should have enough to finish strongly . Don’t see why we should be happy to settle for anything less than 6th . Wake up Bilic and get us there .

    • Kev , have you been taking the wrong meds again 💊💊💊💊💊😂😂😂💊💊💊💊😵😵😵
      6th, a failure , he’s doing the last turkey In the shop 😂😂

  10. I really think there is nothing to choose between the sides from 8 down- if we include Everton in the top group. This season the sides coming up are realistic PL sides too (apart maybe, but don’t bet on it, Huddersfield). I refuse to consider relegation but think we could be anywhere from 8 to 17. I reckon 442 magazine got their 13th place prediction by roughly halving that gap. It’s as good as any other way of estimating it. Depends on injuries to key players, luck with transfers, ref decisions etc. I reckon we should be nearer the top than the bottom but no chance imo of top 6.

    • The same was said when we finished 7th . Got into Europe by fair play . And then squandered the chance by not taking it seriously .
      How serious are we going to be this Season . Hoping for a mid table spot is not amongst my best expectations ., there are a dozen clubs aspiring for the same . We should now be aiming above that level of mediocrity . The Premiership is basically split into three mini leagues and I want West Ham United to be in the top mini league . Why not ? .

    • I may be wrong h64 but I think we have better quality certainly than anyone in the bottom half of the premier league, considerably better last season we underperformed hugely and this season we have improved 4 positions possibly 5 if Rice can look as good in the PL as he did in preseason, if we create as many chances this season and defend slightly better we should be looking at being right in the mix in cups and league but time will tell 😄

  11. No reason I can see as of Aug 9th Kevin. But using the same logic as you, nor did anybody I know of predict we would be in the mess we were last season after 2015/16. That is the point I was making. In that second mini league there is not much difference between success & failure. So I hope you are right about challenging for Europe, but the same could be said by supporters of most of those clubs. And some of them have had a much better record over the last five years. We look a bit stronger on paper to me than last season, but still pretty thin as the article says. Maybe that will be put right in the next three weeks. That could make the difference – let’s hope so!

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